February 19th, 2005, Serial No. 01010

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equally says okay regarding
lots of wires here today

i'm not sure what it is what that term i always feel a little mischievous coming when i ever i walk into zen center and
and i have and i've also learned to have to be a little careful of what i say i can't remember my first talk hear someone through as awful at me
i don't remember why that's so please hold onto years office
and i
i also
i really loved the the process of in a way preparing for these talks is part of giving the talks and it's very rich and i this kind of surprised a little bit at one one of the things that
came up for me that i hadn't thought of in a long time and i i don't think that my family even those this about me that my my nickname and when i was in third grade was mischief is mark
and and i was thinking about that this morning and i looked up the word mischievous and i was really surprised to see that at the root meaning of the word mischievous is
he wrote it down here it means coming to grief
is what the a mischievous ways
and that the the definitions of the word mischievous range from causing harm to being very very playful and causing joy or creating joy and
ah i thought it was a really amazing paradox and again reminds me of this some there's an expression that if it's not paradoxical it's not true and
and in this and in this context of of thinking about my own life and childhood again this this idea of it was a way i think it was away for me to touch and get in touch with some of the the grief that i was feeling and also as a way of expressing joy were all intertwined
what this is a way of and this is a strange way of introducing what i want to talk about which is the practice that the there's a practice period here this is the the second week and people in this practice period are studying the parameters are the perfections or other
rice called this
crossing over to the other shore and
the parramatta i want to talk about which kind of continuing on what christina spoke about last saturday is the practice of generosity i think that can never talk too much or practice too much this this particular practice of generosity or are giving and again just a a quick review that sick
it's the six parameters are generosity morality or ethical conduct patience energy meditation and wisdom and it's sometimes said that to practice any one of these is to practice all six and it's often said that it's no accident that
that generosity is the is the first one
and i also wanted to kind of weave into this talk
suzuki roshi his presence and bring in some things that suzuki roshi had to say about generosity

well i i just remembered a
well i'll read this by suzuki roshi first because every existence in nature every existence in the human world every cultural work that we create is something that was given or as being given to us but as everything is originally one we are in actuality
giving out everything moment after moment we are creating something and this is the joy of our life
ah
this point to me is so it's so amazing and profound and simple and yet
it's so elusive and this this idea what this remembering that
that we really were given everything right that our our bodies and minds and hands and eyes and these were
these were given to us that there's no and even the word even to say that they were given doesn't doesn't quite do it justice but to to live to live with that spirit or to understand that
that we were given that all of these things were given to us and that how and that everything we do
that everything we do is giving
is creating you know every every breath his every thought every idea every
look of compassion or connection that we have is is a gift
this parmi to is called donna prajna parameter right and donna is the the word for giving our generosity prajna is the word for wisdom and power meter is sometimes translated as perfection
but also translated as kind of this crossing over to the other shore but as suzuki roshi talks about that that's crossing over to the shore isn't something in the future it's it's with every breath with every moment with every step
are we to other two other short quotes of suzuki roshi is about this he says if you understand donna processing apart meta you will understand how it is we create so many problems for ourselves of course to live is to create problems if we did not
our parents would have no difficulty with that has been a
that and
to and and one other thing that he says as the suzuki roshi we should use and this i thought was also quite quite wonderful we should do something new to do something new of course we must know our past
but we should not keep holding onto anything we have done
we should only reflect on it
and again i think very simple very profound concept of what does it mean to do something new and that spirit of gossip so often
so often were caught by our ideas and fears and wants and clinging and
you know can see it in are sitting practice often it's
same old same old tape samuel tape over and over again it is one of one of the wonderful things about sitting sessions is that we do we do by a day three or day for just get so tired of the same old tape of the story of who we say that we are that
that every once in awhile there's this it it makes room for some something new some new thought some new way of taking care of our breath
so i
i want to
encourage all of you too
to practice to really take on this practice of generosity and take on to experiment with it
not only in our
and ourselves and practice and or meditation practice but that's one place to allow each breath to be new imagine each breath as being new and in our lives in our relationships and in our in our work
ah i was thinking

there was a time
it was a few weeks ago i noticed i was surprised at how many things in my life well first of i notice how many things in our world seem to be a complete mess that you know from from the war and up iraq and the tsunami and just every know you it's
hard to read the paper it's hard to see just how many things are not seem to not be going well and a global level and at the same time i was noticing in my own life how many things seem to be a period when lots of things were going wrong that i i came out of a restaurant and saw
that my tire looked a little flat and i took it to the gas station and discovered to nails two very different nails almost side by side in my tired and
and then i came home and discovered that my furnace wasn't working and i called the pg new guy and he came in and he discovered that the deck to that you have to get onto the go to the furnace was rotten than one of the birds was rotten and he he said that normally he might not
twenty to speak louder yeah that normally
he wouldn't have fixed it but he was kind enough to get onto this precarious deck and and i got a call from the bank i'm saying that one of my checks have bounced that i had made some as and all these things seem to be happening and i
it i fortunately i picked up a i just i was reading i know i don't remember where i read this i think it may have been in actually one of any lamont's writings that she she talked about
seeing that
a an assistant to the dalai lama
said that when a lot of things seem to be going wrong all of the same time that in in the tibetan buddhist tradition that this can be a sign that there's something really wonderful waiting to be born that there's something waiting to emerge and that all of these things
i thought this was a very generous explanations how does how this fits into this topic
but that what i really liked about this particular tibet an explanation is that a lot of things going wrong are are a way to distract you away way to so that you don't get in the way of what it is that wants to be born that wants to emerge
and
a few days after i i read this and was thinking about this i i had lunch with a
a friend of mine i've been i've been having one the things i've been doing in my life which i've been highly recommending is the the the art of lunch i may have recommended this before here but again i've been having lots and lots of lunches with amazing people and i've noticed that you can call up almost
anyone and offer to take them out to lunch and everybody says yes
it
and it's kind of its kind of this again it is this practice of generosity of taking people to lunch
i was i was joking with my my teenage daughter that like that it's one of the books that's on my line up to write and this the title for this book is lunch you know now that now that the book blink has done so well you know there's this
let's put proven the concept that one one word titles are and very very popular
now but i took this i took this person to lunch and i was i would actually i was waiting for him and this restaurant in berkeley and i was waiting about fifteen minutes and and he didn't appear and i got up and called him on my cellphone and he's like i'm so sorry i'll be right there and so he he came and he sat down
and
apologize profusely said he had screwed up that somehow he had put it on the calendar and the wrong place and and and this was this was a this was a ceo of a pretty large successful company a man in his sixties and he said that lots of things seem to be going wrong and his life that it's
just like he's losing things and and it's just not not used to that at all and i explained this some tibetan buddhist concept about things waiting to be born that this was a sign and he he was very skeptical he he kind of
he said he said i don't i don't believe in this this new age kind of stuff this is just as rationalism and and we went on we went on to had a very nice lunch and
and when we were when we were finished as we were getting up
as he was pushing his chair back his umbrella dropped and he bent down to pick up his umbrella and he knocked over the glass of water that was on the table and spilled it on the woman sitting next to us and
as he was as he was cleaning up the the rudder on the women's pants next to us
i knew that something very beautiful was waiting

and i
i i realized too that in part of
from the other thing i want to talk about the the other's side of generosity and this is one of the really interesting things about the practice of generosity in ah
in the buddhist tradition is this give what's called giving the gift of fearlessness
and ah
and i think that's very very beautiful
practice and
and i was thinking about again coming back to my own process of preparing for these talks i i usually feel i usually start feeling a lot of fear about a week before and
and it's actually quite it's actually quite wonderful because it it changes my consciousness i started thinking about
what it is i want to say what it is i can give and and who is theirs is it possible to say something that actually would be helpful to people and and i noticed that it my my body starts to change about a week before and it
and it gets worse and worse as the time comes before the some talks
i think i won't even tell you how many times i went to the bathroom this morning
but but then and then oh another part of my process is that i usually
prepare a lot in fact i i usually write out what i'm going to say as a way it's a kind of thumb protection from my own fear and if i have if i haven't all written out then i just have to read it but i've i've noticed it doesn't feel very good to do that and
it might if it reminded me of ah when i was a when i was in high school i was captain of my high school wrestling team and and this whole idea of fear and not being afraid and winning and losing were were very very
important issues for me i was exploring as a teenager and i can remember
i can remember being a head in a wrestling match and just kind of clamping down and hope holding on in order to win and because rapists and instead of because if i were if i were just continuing to wrestle there be that chance that maybe something would go wrong and i'm
might lose i was ahead i could just kind of clamp down and hold on and when and i can remember walking off the mat at the end of a match winning and really feeling bad and ah
and i decided that in some way the best way for me to prepare for these talks was to not prepare
and
yeah so that's that's how i've prepared for this for this time my my apologies
and
but my dog my teenage daughter i was telling her about i was telling her about this and she said that's good that's good dad she gave me permission and said it's a good thing it's really a good thing to feel to feel nervous
yeah so this is giving the gift of
of fearlessness
one of the things that i've been ah
i've started i've started once again taking improv classes
like there's like there's not enough times in my life for me to feel terrified and and completely dumb but i needed to i needed to create one more place in my life and and improv classes are
i highly highly recommend them very beautiful practice
and one of the things that i
i've i know i've talked a little bit about this but i've just been some news i've discovered some new things but some of the things that i've discovered about improv that are helpful in practice and particularly i think in this practicing with generosity is that
in improv practice the
first of all you can't you can't make mistakes and if there's there's no such thing as a mistake
the the rules are that
that you accept offers again a wonderful practice of generosity so whatever whatever it is that comes your way whatever who knows it you might someone my in this case this is kind of radical except in someone might start talking to you onstage as know you're the father or mother or and
alien and and you accepted so you just accept whatever it is that comes your way and that the idea of improv is to not try and look good not to try and stand out will be clever or funny but to actually help other people to make it easy for other people to be with
ever they need to do whatever their role is
and one of but when it's a lesson that i've learned recently which surprised me was this idea of commitment to at once once you go in a certain direction and impromptu that once you're once you're being a certain care
actor to just completely commit to being that character and and it's harder than you it's harder than you might think because you it's it's very easy to kind of step out of character to want or to judge it as though this isn't going where i wanted to go but to commit and and
this commitment is to fully be there and be asking what's what's next just be curious about what's next and to trust whatever it is what's next and again this is so much like zazen practice like our meditation practice that that
again it's a simple a simple point but it's very easy to sit down on the cushion and to not commit right that and what would it be what would it be like to actually be so generous with yourself that you are committing that your
really there or in your in your relationships in your in your people people that you're with at work or whatever whatever it is you're doing to not be thinking about something else or what else is there but to actually commit completely to what's right there

yeah there's this there's this wonderful
can one of my my favorite zen koans which also is is really about this practice of giving the gift of fearlessness is the
how do you step from the top of one hundred foot pole
and and this is a one of those classic
zen stories about about commitment so you who sit on the top of one hundred foot pole although you have entered the way it is not genuine take a step from the top of the pole and the entire universe is in your eye
and again this this is a
present story about commitment and about generosity about doing something about doing something new this idea of stepping off from what safe what's predictable
and and into a place that is a little bit scary and
this practice of giving the gift of fearlessness means to be prep be so president with people in a way that is is new is different and is beyond usual habits
i was thinking of
my family and i started we started going on a river rafting trips i think our first trip was probably about ten years ago and my wifely i remember her are suggesting that we go that we go on a river rafting trip and we had never been rat
thing before and
i did everything i could to come up with reasons why this was a bad idea it just know
there was there was the rational idea of that it was expensive and we couldn't afford it but the truth was i was terrified of the idea of going on the river and
and
my wife discovered in that within those discussions she discovered that that she came home and said that she had a there was a lump on her breast and that she needed to go see the doctor and that we were going on this river rafting trip
that that somehow this some seeing how unpredictable our lives are and the shortness of our lives that we really that that we really don't know we really don't know what will happen next
i was reading
well i was reading this morning i picked up
the book cricket cucumber which is the book of suzuki russia's it's suzuki roshi his biography by i'm david chadwick and there's a beautiful story and there at the very it's actually in the introduction to the book where
david chadwick
says to suzuki roshi this is at tassajara he after a lecture he david raises his hand and says i really love your lectures and i love being here and i know that what you're saying is important but i think if i were to study for a thousand years i would have no idea
what you're talking about
could you please could you please
tell me and could you boil it all down to just a couple of words what it is that zen practices is about and everyone who started laughing because this was just such an outrageous question and david does tend to be outrageous
but david goes on to say that he was very surprised that suzuki roshi actually answered his question and his and his answer was that everything changes
and ah
we've we've had some amazing amazing experiences on our river rafting trips and wonderful bouts with a fearlessness was
a few years ago we went on the we we rafted we would the grand canyon this was kind of the ultimate term rafting trip and and i again i remember being pretty terrified about the idea of these huge huge reputed to have these huge waves and big rapids
little did i know that
on this trip that the guides were the guides were all the the lead guide was a guy who is probably in his fifties but he was like a little kid and he was completely fearless and playful and
whenever we got out of the boots he would say who wants to go on an adventure who wants to go on a hike and of course i was reluctant but my kids were like yeah they were the first in line and i felt like well i need to i need to go do this
and so many times they can i can remember the guides we came to this is probably a thirty or forty foot ravine with a creek down on the bottom and the guide said who wants to go down there and and i was like not rude and
my kids were both yeah we want to go down there and and i look up and the guy throws a rope down and he's climbing and my kids are climbing and the next thing i know i'm climbing i'm cut climbing down this down into this ravine and ah
and over and over again on these hikes were there was another there was another hike in which we were walking along the side of a a mountain that was and it was fairly steep and the trail we were on seem like it kept getting narrower and narrower and narrower to they've got to a point and
and i can remember it looked it looked so narrow and the and the possible fall looked so steep that i couldn't i couldn't believe we were actually going to walk on this and i turned to the lead guide who is a kind of gave him this look of terror and and he said yeah i forgot to tell
tell you about this part
but it was it was amazing this the trusted took and my body that my body could actually
do this and
and one of the
things that really surprised me especially after going on a lot of these hikes and walking along these narrow ledges was how safe i felt when we got back in the boats
that i couldn't i couldn't wait to get back in the boats
it was rather how could you get hurt and rather rap of these rap i wasn't afraid of the rapids that all and
i said
i did they'll have the
actually it was it wasn't on that trip it was on i think it was on it was on a different trip it was the the the middle fork of the salmon river that i did have the
the experience of
i was i was kayaking i was in one of these little yellow kayaks and i was pretending to be fearless and it was it was working quite well for a while
until we we came upon the the largest rapid on the on this particular river and i was in a little one of these little kayaks wishing i was on a boat but it was it was too late and
my little as we are approaching the the guide went through exactly where to go and how to do it and what to pay attention to and right before we got to the main part of the rapid
i i hit this little more cool and my boat went over and
and i looked i looked to was it possible to swim to the boat know was it possible to swim to shore know and
the
i proceeded to swim through float through this some it was it was actually it was an amazing amazing experience that i hope to never repeat
but there was there was no choice there was completely no choice but it it was a completely new experience and and there was nothing i could do but to give myself to to being in the water to being in the river and
it was an amazing lesson

how i was thinking of
i was reading an interview this week of
one of the
most famous golfers in the world man named ben hogan who played golf i think in the fifties or sixties and he was being he was being interviewed and the person who interviewed him said
how is it that under pressure we're normally when people would be really afraid
you just seem to hit amazing golf shot after amazing golf shop and ben hogan's answer to this was it's just luck and and then the person interviewing them said but it's been documented that you practice you spend more time
practicing golf than any human being has ever done in the history in the history of the sport and ben hogan's response was the more i practice the luckier i get
and
and i was thinking about this
this practice of this practice of generosity that thank you

i'd like to recommend as i said i'd like to recommend it as a practice and
to really notice during the week opportunities
to be generous with yourself
to be to have a warm like imagine having a warm hearted spirit with yourself particularly when things are difficult and imagine being
really present and there for
whether it's your friend or your spouse or someone at work but to actually practice generosity and
it is i mean the reason i think of this this ben hogan story is that it really is a discipline that it takes it takes both it takes kind of an openness and and flexibility but it also takes a a real discipline it's it's one of the things
that
i've really been enjoying about the the process of writing i've been writing now for many many years and
i did i did think a little bit about what it would it be a shameless self promotion for me to tell you about my new book that's out and i thought i can get over that fear
but i've been you know i i've been working on and writing this book for about ten years which is now which is now out called zb a zen of business administration and the title was a joke
and know
play on m a cbs it gets your ba degree
but what i am
what i love about the process of writing is the times when i'm surprised that there are ways there are ways that i think when i'm writing that i don't i i access a different part of my brain that are my body that i don't access in any other way
and what's exciting to me about the process of writing is the few times that i'm surprised when things come up that i didn't know and but the other side of that for me is that i've noticed i can't write without i need to i need the discipline of writing i need
the two on either have a particular time or what i've been experimenting with lately is i give myself a goal that says i'm going to write a two thousand word essay each week and i actually hold myself accountable at the end of the week to how'd i do it though
that and you know and sometimes i do it and sometimes i don't but again i'm suggesting this as a way partly as a way to practice with generosity is to have some discipline to actually notice and actually
experiment with holding yourself accountable for practicing generosity you know at the end of the day right in your journal you know how did you do at this practice did you practice generosity or what were the opportunities that you might have missed
i've been i've been i've noticed it's interesting right there's there's the process of writing a book and then there's the process of well the book is the book has done and it and it's this thing in the world and i remember after the book after this book zba was completely done and i hadn't thought about it
the
a transcript of the book came back from the publisher and i said oh look a book and i sat down and started reading through this book of mine that i and i was approaching it as new and i remember thinking this is good stuff i should i should be doing this and i
and one of my but one of the practices that i that i have now is i'm i completely care about this book and i've been doing everything i can to promote it because i feel i actually feel like there are things in here that are useful that it's a that
that there's something here that i've worked to give
and at the same time i'm practicing completely letting go of expecting anything or having any result at all
and i was as a again as i was thinking about this last night of and kind of looking at how am i doing at both these practices and i thought i really suck at both these practices you know that i'm not that i don't feel like i'm doing very good at either it's really that it's and it again just came back to trying
really trying to be generous and with myself about
being able to do both
i wanted to
was funny someone someone yesterday told me that they they read my book and it changed their life and they said yeah how how is that and they said that there's a piece in the book about
there's a chapter called run your life and your business like a zen monastery kitchen
and i talk about what it was like spending years in the tulsa area kitchens and the attention to detail and that i mentioned in the book that in the our kitchen sponges are always kept on their side when when they're not in use so that they can a
air dry and this person who i who told me that they read my book and it changed their life because now they keep their sponges on their on their side

i wanted to finish with
get reading reading this quote from
suzuki roshi and this is actually one of it's a beautiful beautiful coat and story and it's in a way it's one of
one of the most intimate stories that i've seen suzuki roshi tell in in writing and it's it's so it's so subtle it you can almost read over it and so many things in his writings are like that but i gleaned from this that this that he's talking about a particular incident
that happened between him and his wife in which
his wife was calling him to breakfast and he was in another he was in another room and
oxon was setting it's time for breakfast and he was studying or doing something else and and in a way he he didn't want to respond there is there is some there was some tightness there was some way that he didn't that he didn't want to respond and this is and this is what he says about that
a moment he's so the secret is just to say yes
and jump off from here then there is no problem it means to be yourself in the present moment always yourself without sticking to an old self
you forget all about yourself and are refreshed
you are a new self and before that self becomes an old self you say yes and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast
so the point of each moment is to forget the point and extend your practice
and
can i think that's just such a beautiful way in which the zucchini russia was revealing both
something very intimate and personal about his own relationship and also the how powerful and deep is
his practice of generosity is this just saying yes
thank you very much
the
the
the race
the